Rytis Mažulis

Rytis Mažulis is one of the most distinctive Lithuanian composers; he represents the super-minimalist trends in Lithuania, by taking similar repetitive principles combined with new ideas close to various avant-garde techniques. Having felt the strong influence of Conlon Nancarrow's and Giacinto Scelsi's concepts, he writes radical monistic compositions, based only on a canon technique, and frequently using computers. Though the relics of Renaissance polyphony exist in his music, its compressed sound is sometimes more akin to rock with its hyper-dissonances, while the microintervals are reminiscent of Scelsi. In regards to its form they are gigantic art compositions, exhibiting very slow and consecutively alternating constellations. Mažulis's music bears a fairly distinctive mark of laboratory work, though it does maintain a balance of academic correctness.

Šarūnas Nakas




Rytis Mažulis (b.1961) graduated from the Lithuanian Academy of Music in 1983, where he studied composition under Julius Juzeliūnas. In 1988 he was honoured with the prize Tyla (Silence) for the chamber composition The Sleep and in 1989 the same composition won the prize of the Lithuanian Culture Fund for chamber and vocal music. The composer received the scholarship of the Akademie Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart, for the period from September 1998 to April 1999. Rytis Mažulis was twice awarded the prize for the best vocal composition (ajapajapam, 2002; Form Is Emptiness, 2006) by the Lithuanian Composers' Union. In 2004 he was awarded the Lithuanian National Prize. From 2006 to 2014 Rytis Mažulis was head of the composition department of the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre.

Works by Mažulis are regularly  performed at various international festivals: Nyyd (Tallinn, 1991), Musikhøst (Odense, 1992), Deutschlandfunk (Cologne, 1992), Prague Spring (1995), Norrtelje Chamber Music Festival (1995), De Suite Muziekweek (Amsterdam, 1995), Minimalisms (Berlin, 1998), Klang Raum (Stuttgart, 1998), 53. Arbeitstagung von Institut für neue Musik und Musikerziehung (Darmstadt, 1999), MaerzMusik (Berlin, 2003), Melos-Ethos (Bratislava, 2005), Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival (2006, 2007), Images Sonores (Liege, 2007), ISCM World Music Days (Vilnius, 2008), as well as performances in Warsaw, Gdansk, Düsseldorf, Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart (1994, 1999), Queen Elizabeth Hall in London (1995).

Rytis Mažulis's works are marked by a particular stylistic purity, the integrity and symmetry of a musical texture based on contrapuntal technique (mostly canons) as well as by concentric forms. Such directness of his ideas naturally demands appropriate instrumentation to achieve homogeneous and ‘crystal clear’ sound. Rytis Mažulis, therefore, writes music mostly for ensembles of similar colours or keyboard instruments, these pieces are performed live or are realized with electronics, treating it as a kind of ‘super-piano’. In some of his works the composer uses unique possibilities of electronics, which are impossible to recreate with conventional instruments.

As can be seen in the composition Palindrome one can hear micro-chromatic gradations of pitch (quarter-tones and thinner) and non-standard divisions of rhythmic values, or simultaneous pulsations of different tempi. His Clavier of Pure Reason cannot be performed live as accurately, due partially to the size of the ‘chamber ensemble’ (24 pianos). These opuses not only reflect these tendencies towards stylistic purity and compositional integrity, but also show that it is possible to express a subtle humour in pure musical forms, without any allusions to other arts and realities.